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Hebrides News


New research suggests there are untapped reserves of oil and gas off the Western Isles.

An Aberdeen University study assessed prospects of drilling around Rockall.

Scientists highlight past exploration was in the wrong place.

Drilling in different spots could lead to new oil and gas discoveries, they say.

Previous searches around Rockall have been largely unsuccessful, with only one gas discovery out of 12 wells.

Geologists have identified areas with better potential.

Study signals new hope for Rockall oil and gas exploration

20 February 2017

Dr Nick Schofield from Aberdeen University said: “We believe that the oil and gas is more likely to have migrated to the outer fringes of Rockall instead, away from these previous exploration targets.”

A study has identified the eastern edge of the Basin against the Outer Hebrides Shelf as an area of interest for future exploration activity.

Lying 230 miles west of North Uist, Rockall is officially part of the district of Harris.

Those behind the research believe that misconceptions regarding the character of the basin - as well as challenging weather conditions and a lack of supporting infrastructure due to its remoteness - have hampered past exploration efforts.

Dr Nick Schofield said: “The Rockall Basin is one of the most challenging environments on Earth when it comes to hydrocarbon exploration, but our analysis has revealed that one of the barriers to success may have been a misunderstanding of the subsurface geology.

“By analysing seismic data ... we found that the character of areas where operators hoped to find oil may have been misleading.”

Previous drilling was on bumps in the sub-surface where it was hoped oil may have been trapped.

“In the case of Rockall, these bumps, in many cases, appear to have actually been caused by volcanic intrusions in the sub-surface,” he said.

Scientists are now building up a detailed geological understanding for Rockall which will be made freely available to the oil industry.

The university carried out the study with a £250,000 grant from the Oil and Gas Authority.